Do you need a custody order when the other parent has disappeared?

mother and baby left behind when the other parent disappears

All the term custody means is who makes important decisions for your child.  Those related to educational decisions (choice of school, program), health care decisions (under the child can make the decision), religion and extra-curricular activities.  For more on what “custody” means, check out this podcast or look at this webpage.  Since the father is not around, nobody is challenging your decisions, so there may be no practical need for a custody order.

In addition, section 20(4) of Ontario's Children's Law Reform Act  states that when one parent leave a child in the care of the other parent, the leaving parent gives up all right to custody until there is a court order or agreement to the contrary.  So, you already have "custody" according to that law.

There are some unusual circumstances where you might need an actual custody order.  (Travel to some foreign countries for example.)  When you need a custody order, you will be specifically asked for it.  There are very few such circumstances if the father is not even on the birth certificate.  But, if you are told you need a custody order, then things get a little complicated as you have to serve the father, and presumably you do not know where he lives.  So, you would need to bring a motion for something called "substituational service."  You may want to speak to a lawyer about how to do that, and how to make sure the custody proceeding goes smoothly.   Otherwise, the whole process could get tied up or you could end up in a battle you did not want.

For more information about custody matters, child support (which you should be getting) and most other family law legal matters, as well as a description of the court process and the alternatives to court, pick up a copy of this $20, easy-to-understand book on the basics of Ontario Family Law

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle

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© John P. Schuman 2014